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jin-dui.swartzer.com • View topic - World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Start-up issues and world-building for this OC/Firefly 'Verse creative sandbox project

Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby Whitney » Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:58 pm

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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby Whitney » Sat Aug 16, 2014 7:07 pm

So... I think we need to determine what our collective creative preference here will be.

Do we want to stick with the "fanon" science of how the ship's grav and propulsion systems work?

Or do we want to change it up and go with the "canon" science of how the ship's grav and propulsion systems work?

Do you have a preference? (And honestly -- "I don't care!" is a very valid response! The whole nuts and bolts questions here are, admittedly, nitpicky detail-wankage...)

I'm of two minds. One the one hand, I feel like I kind of understand the current systems as described in the Firefly Mechanics 101 document -- I've used them as my mental baseline in a couple of years worth of table-top RP, and have now been applying them here for the last six months worth of fic-writing-thinkie-thinkie.

But on the other hand... I AM reposting many of my Jin Dui fanfics at the FireflyFans.net site, and I don't want to deal with other fans coming at me with "hey, you're writing your ship propulsion systems all wrong! Joss Whedon intended for the engines to work like this..." Granted, the VAST MAJORITY of fans are invested in character 'shipping and don't get a wet sneeze for how the ship actually works, but the detail-wank people out there are generally the fans I'm more writing for than the Mal/Simon shippers, and are the ones who's feedback I <i>care</i> about.

I think overall, I'd rather revise our Firefly Mechanics 101 to work with the Numbers of the Verse canon, than knowingly deviate from the canon tech... even though I LIKE what we've already been using much better than the canon!
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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby lothien » Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:58 pm

I am officially in the "do not care" category. ^^
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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby Ron » Sun Aug 17, 2014 9:24 pm

Here's my take on the "The Verse In Numbers" (TVIN) document from fireflyfans.net vs. the "Firefly Mechanics 101" (FM101) document we've been using.

Power and Fuel: Both documents talk about fusion powerplants using artificial gravity for compression. FM101 says the fuel is the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium. TVIN just says "hydrogen" but must mean deuterium and maybe tritium as well; standard hydrogen cannot fuse because it contains no neutrons. All three isotopes have the same chemistry, so they can be combined with oxygen to form water (as FM101 describes) or liquified at the same temperature (as TVIN has it.)

If we follow TVIN here, refueling is potentially dangerous because liquid hydrogen is almost absolute zero, though a much smaller volume needs to be transferred than under the FM101 system, which uses much safer but higher-volume heavy water. The FM101 system also gives us oxygen as a by-product, though that's simple enough to get by other means so that's not really a drawback to the TVIN method.

Either way, it's still a fusion reactor; even though most of the power output goes to maintain the gravity system and the fusion reaction, the leftover fraction is still effectively limitless for everyday needs.

Planetary drive: No serious conflict here either. Both documents describe the propulsion pods' turbojet/ramjet/scramjet/rocket sequence in pretty much the same way.

Gravity system: Some conflict here. FM101 says there are electromagnets scattered around the hull of the ship that generate gravity for different sections. These could theoretically be varied or turned on and off individually (or be damaged) to cause different gravity in different parts of the ship. TVIN on the other hand describes a single field generated by the gravity rotor; the gravity is the same in every part of the ship. An even bigger conflict is that TVIN states that a sustained gravity field would exist at nearly full strength for weeks after the power was turned off. More on that later.

Primary Propulsion: Here is the big conflict. FM101 describes the gravity system reducing the ship's inertia so a conventional rocket can accelerate it to interplanetary speeds, while TVIN talks about setting off fusion reactions behind the ship to push against an electromagnetic/gravitic shield, with no inertia reduction involved. Those little H-bombs going off behind the ship are... problematic. We'd have to keep that in mind as we write and edit stories.



So, which document do we use?

We can't ignore that The Verse In Numbers is accepted as canon by fireflyfans.net; I don't think we are absolutely bound by that, but we'd be different from a large piece of the fanbase if we change that.

With my somewhat limited physics education, TVIN looks like it needs more handwaving to make it work. It's probably not a problem for 99% of the fandom though. There are definitely things I don't like, and the idea of an artificial gravity field maintaining itself without power is... well, let's just be polite and call it ludicrous even compared to the idea of generating artificial gravity in the first place. That detail doesn't have to come into the story, though.

So personally, I'm not decided. It may not even matter to anybody who isn't going to write about the nuts and bolts of ship operations. But if any of you have an opinion or a preference, I'd love to hear it.
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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby Whitney » Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:37 am

I waffle from one day to the next! I don't want to get called out as an author... but hell, if our existing system sounds cleaner and less dangerous...

We can always go into our existing documents and place a single line of explanation such as "We are aware of technological discrepancies between the following content and the propulsion systems described in The Numbers of the Verse; we have chosen to use this source over TNotV as it's (less simpler, less dangerous, and requires less real-world-science handwaving,"

I do like the prospect of making an official recognition of the departure, then sticking to what we've already got. That way we've covered our bases and given the matter due diligence, but not wasted a lot more time on it. :ugeek: If I ever do get called out for it, I can invite them to just take a gander at our reference materials and then agree to politely disagree.

It's really not an issue I expect will cause real trouble -- I just want to make sure that everyone is "on board" with our group canon. I want to just be sure that whatever I'm going to be writing about makes the most possible sense.

(And again -- "I really don't care how it works, it ain't skin off my nose" is a perfectly valid reaction here! It's a valid vote, IMHO.)
Last edited by Whitney on Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited to clarify... my original post was confusing even to myself...
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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby Whitney » Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:10 pm

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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby Bill » Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:47 am

Magneto Hydro-Dynamics. Yes, that's a still-experimental method of propulsion for sea-going vessels. (At least I think it's still experimental. There have been problems. Fires, mostly.) Bit it is real and it does work. Mostly.

My very limited understanding of sea-going MHD engines is that they strip out free electrons from the surrounding sea water (instead of an ionized gas stream) to provide effectively unlimited electrical power for the ship. By the time of the Firefly universe this technology would be over 550 years old. Should work by then. ;)
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Re: World-Building for our 'Verse & Serenity continuty

Postby jncunningham » Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:05 am

Hey all! Whitney, thanks for the kind introduction. :)

Just wanted to touch base and keep the discussion going.. I know I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, which is tough when you're talking tech that isn't possible according to known physics!

Ron, I liked your breakdown of the differences between TVIN and FM101. Like Whitney quoted, I lean toward TVIN; but, let's keep discussing it. Also FWIW I'm new here so I'm happy to defer to what you guys have already established, if that's what we decide. :)

To pick one point for a start:

One of the big problems I have with FM101 is the idea of electromagnets being used to create artificial gravity. My understanding of magnetism mostly boils down to 'they are some crazy shit', but I think it's true that any material can be effected by a strong enough magnetic field. So in theory, they could be used to create some sort of attractive field that is like gravity. The problem is that this much electric power would generate so much heat that it would melt the electromagnet material before it even got close to any kind of noticeable field. That's been the problem with experimental rail guns (which use electromagnets to accelerate a projectile) - they work great, once, and then you're left with a bunch of fused together/molten parts.

So it seems like a bigger hand-wave to me, since we're taking a real-world tech that everyone is familiar with, and claiming it is being used in a way that is unfamiliar and by all appearances impossible. We would need to add something about the electromagnets being built from some fictional material, or say that the magnetic field behaves differently than real-world, or is being amplified, or..

My initial two cents. Any thoughts?

Bill, yep! My understanding is that the 'Hydro' part of MHD comes from the initial experiments, which used sea water. The name is a bit misleading from where the tech is now. More on it later, it's gotten way to late for me.. :roll: If we use it we should come up with another slick acronym.
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